Private sector companies play a crucial role in the national economy, particularly in the dynamic field of Information & Communication Technology (ICT). In this article, I will explore the significance of companies in the ICT sector with focus on SMEs, the challenges they face, their potential for growth and export, the domains they should focus on, their self-reliance, the importance of sectoral membership associations, and the role of governments in supporting them.
Companies in the ICT sector are vital contributors to the national economy. They foster innovation, create employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth. These agile enterprises are often at the forefront of technological advancements, driving digital transformation and competitiveness in other sectors. They also promote entrepreneurship and attract investment, contributing to a vibrant and diverse business ecosystem.
Despite their significance, SMEs in the ICT sector encounter several challenges. Limited financial resources, access to capital, and high operating costs can impede their growth and competitiveness. Additionally, they face intense competition from larger corporations and struggle to attract and retain skilled IT professionals. Keeping pace with rapidly evolving technologies and market demands can also pose challenges for SMEs.
For SMEs to thrive and contribute significantly to the economy, they must focus on growth and export. Scaling their operations allows them to reach new markets, diversify their customer base and increase their revenue streams. Exporting their ICT products, solutions and services opens doors to international opportunities, fosters global recognition and enhances their competitiveness on a global scale.
They should strategically focus on key domains and to excel and foster growth. These include IT outsourcing, software development, system integration, cybersecurity solutions, cloud computing services, mobile application development, data analytics, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain. By specialising in these areas, SMEs can carve out a niche, differentiate themselves, and capitalise on market demand.
To thrive in a competitive landscape, SMEs in the ICT sector should strive for self-reliance. This entails continuously upgrading their skills, embracing a culture of innovation and investing in research and development. By reducing dependency on external resources, they can enhance their agility, adaptability and overall competitiveness. SMEs should also prioritise strategic partnerships and collaborations to leverage complementary expertise and resources.
SMEs in the ICT sector have the potential to grow into large companies, making a substantial impact on the economy. By capitalising on their core competencies, expanding their market reach and continuously innovating, SMEs can scale their operations and become major players in the digital economy. This growth trajectory would lead to increased exports, job creation and enhanced economic prosperity.
Sectoral membership associations, such as the ICT Association of Jordan – int@j, play a crucial role in supporting the growth and development of companies in the ICT sector. Membership in ICT associations offers numerous benefits to companies. It provides opportunities for business networking, partnerships and collaborations with other industry players. Companies can gain exposure to potential clients, investors and talent pools through association events and initiatives. ICT associations also advocate for the interests of their member companies, influencing policy decisions and facilitating access to government support programmes and funding opportunities.
On the other hand, governments should play a crucial role in supporting companies including SMEs in the ICT sector. They should create an enabling business environment through favourable policies, streamlined regulations and simplified bureaucratic procedures. Governments should offer stable financial incentives, tax breaks, grants and subsidies to assist SMEs in export related activities and participations in regional and international exhibitions which shall lead to growth and innovation. Governments should also invest heavily in education and training programmes to develop a skilled workforce and bridge the digital skills gap.
Lastly, I strongly recommend that IT companies actively engage with the ecosystem by participating in various events and remaining well-informed about industry news and diligently pursuing the opportunities announced by membership associations and other stakeholders in the sector. A notable example is the recent launch of the Market Intelligence Function by the ICT Association of Jordan – int@j, offering its members valuable access to free information on tenders, opportunities, specialised events, market updates and comprehensive reports on many markets as well as various technologies such as Metaverse, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and others. By establishing and maintaining connections with these valuable sources, IT companies can continuously stay updated on the latest trends and prospects that have the potential to accelerate their growth and expand their business. Having knowledge of available opportunities and emerging technologies empowers companies to make informed strategic decisions, allowing them to maximise their potential for growth and innovation within this dynamic sector.
The writer is Nidal Bitar the Chief Executive Officer of the ICT Association of Jordan – int@j